Thursday, January 13, 2011

Starting Clean

 Thanksgiving through New years is such a challenging time to eat well and proportioned. We are tempted with sweet and savory treats wherever we turn and the holiday season can lead to an average weight gain per person of 7-10 lbs!   Even with a strong willpower, it's still hard to avoid temptations when they are everywhere!  

That is why when the owner of Catalyst Cleanse approached Fusion's Cross-Training coaches about trying their products over the holiday season,  they were relieved to be able to avoid the allure of the holiday goodies. (trainers are no exception) Structure is necessary when approaching any major dietary change, and Catalyst Cleanse provides just that. Their most popular cleanse is 3 or 5 days long.  The Fusion coaches opted for the 5 day cleanse, which consisted of 6 juices daily. They chose to have the raw food option for the last 2 days, meaning they were provided with 4 juices and one raw/vegan meal and dessert.  

Cleanses have been a hot topic in the media lately as a quick way to drop excess pounds. I have to be honest I was curious to see what would happen in that department, however my main focus was to detoxify my body and start fresh for the new year. 
When we exceed our intake of toxins, which can come not only  from the food we eat but, also  the water we drink, the air we breathe and the environment that we live in, the body becomes over loaded and stores these toxins in the organs and fat cells. This can lead to many of the chronic diseases linked to diet that we see in this country. New studies have shown that an inability to release these toxins can be the reason why many people who attempt to lose weight through calorie restriction and exercise do not see optimal results. A cleanse such as Catalyst gives your body an opportunity to receive all the nutrients it requires to eliminate the built up toxins, which then allows your body to run optimally and naturally heal itself.

 Take a second to  think about the food that you eat. If it's not 100% organic, then it most likely has been exposed to pesticides, fungicides, insecticides,  and chemical fertilizers, all which can be extremely toxic to the human body. Not to mention all of the processing that goes into most of our food, which adds preservatives, artificial colors, flavor enhancers, and artificial sweeteners. It's hard to avoid these additions in our food with the standard American diet.

 In order to prepare yourself for the cleanse, Catalyst recommends that you eat a vegan diet during the week preceding it to ease your body into the cleanse.  They suggest minimizing or eliminating caffeine and alcohol as well.  It is also suggested to ease your way back into your regular diet the week following completion of the cleanse, so as not to dirty up your freshly cleansed system right away. Remember, the goal of these cleanses is to have a clean slate! 

"My general experience with the 5 day cleanse was very fulfilling. I was able to really tune into my body and realize a few key things, such as my need for food being very habitual versus necessary. The cleanse only provided me with 1200 calories a day, which falls about 800 calories short of my typical daily intake. Even though my calories were in a deficit, my body was getting all the nutrients it needed from pure fruits and vegetables, which allowed my  hunger mechanism and cravings to quiet down. When we eat cooked and processed  food we do not obtain  all the vitamins and minerals that we need, so our body responds by signaling us to continue eating until those needs are met. So we continue to eat foods that do not meet out daily needs and it becomes a cycle of overeating.  Over the course of 5 days I  dropped 5 lbs, and felt extremely energetic. My sleep was improved greatly and  I was surprised that I was able to continue my daily exercise regiment, feeling very strong.  The biggest impact this cleanse had on me was the increased level of awareness of my appetite. I noticed myself asking "Am I hungry?" and  was able to really distinguish the difference between my emotional and physical hunger. I believe that humans want to feel fulfilled and often use food as that fulfiller, as it is pleasurable to our senses and can be a source of comfort. The cleanse forced me to find pleasure and comfort without using food. This cleanse was a great experience for me and I would happily do it again." -Juliet 

"I thought it was a great learning experience to find my limitations when it comes to healthy eating, and I now have the knowledge to break through those limitations. I noticed my mind thinking about food, way more than my body actually needed it.  The last two days when the calorie deficit started to catch up with me, I was able to get a few bites of delicious raw food. It was interesting to observe that liquids killed my pleasure cravings, but the taste and experience of solid food brought them back strong. I lost weight I wasn't looking to lose, but I gained it back quickly enough, and was balanced again in no time. I'd do it again for the nutritional cleanse and the mental training." -Gavin

Would I be hungry? Would I have enough energy to workout, or let alone make it through an entire day of work? These were the questions that were circulating in my mind prior to the cleanse. With next to no protein, would I lose muscle and/or strength? And let’s get real, the question we all want answered, would I ever be able to make it out of the bathroom? I normally consume between 3000-4000 calories a day (spread out over 5-6 meals eaten every 2-4 hours) so needless to say I eat a lot of food often. The first three days I was in fact in a state of perpetual hunger (it varied from slightly hungry to over starving-I’ll-eat-anything-in-front-of-my-facis processed, and I spent the week prior preparing with a vegan meal plan. I imagine the experience would be slightly different if I ate Dunkin’ Donuts and McDonalds daily. I am glad I experienced e). What got me through was the thought of my next juice. Oh, how I never thought juice could be so satisfying, I savored every drop and turned 16oz of juice into 30 minutes of pure drinking pleasure. I was able to schedule many workouts into the 5 days. To my surprise I did have the energy to run, lift weights, and attend 90 minute 110 degree Bikram yoga. The fear of a sudden attack of explosive diarrhea was ever present but unnecessary as with the elimination of solid foods from my diet there was little to pass through the digestive tract. I do however eat clean foods, little of which a juice fast. I feel stronger mentally, in that I could control my primal urge to eat when I felt as if I was starving and the delicious smell of food is everywhere. Hunger does in fact go away, and I felt as if I could keep the fast going for many days after. Although my performance was less than normal I could keep up with my exercise. My weight dropped rapidly, 11 pounds in 5 days, and my body fat was reduced by about 2%. (I have since gained about ½ the weight back and seem to be maintaining). If you are interested in juice fasting give it a try. Let me know, maybe I’ll join you!
          -Jesse Frank

*Catalyst cleanse currently has a delivery service based out of Fairmount and will be expanding into a store front location in center city this coming spring.

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